Growing on Her Own Terms: Corine’s Journey from Homelessness to Leadership
Corine Blackmore surveyed the Solutions Farms grounds. As Farm Manager, she gracefully handles all the ordering, scheduling and admin work that makes the farm hum along—growing hundreds of fresh produce plants every day.
“The cycle of this aquaponics farm kinda reminds me of the transformation I went through,” Corine said. “Just a few years ago, I was like a seed full of fear and regret. But Solutions rooted me, nourished me and helped me grow into the self-sufficient person I am now. And the cycle keeps going. I get to watch the new Solutions students follow in my footsteps as they start to work on the farm.”
Now a confident manager and steadfast mother of two, Corine seems like a far cry from the version of herself that dropped to rock bottom in 2019. That version of Corine was drinking rubbing alcohol and lost custody of her kids. But in just two years, Corine took control at Solutions for Change and never looked back.
For the better part of a decade, Corine stayed in a codependent relationship with the father of her children. Together, they experienced stints of homelessness and consistent alcoholism. They had their first child, and postpartum depression compounded the weight of their unhealthy relationship, which sent Corine spiraling back to dangerous coping mechanisms.
“I self-medicated my struggles with alcohol for a while, which was not a good idea,” Corine said. “But once I actually got diagnosed with anxiety and got medication, I found myself getting addicted to my prescription meds.”
Within this dark time, Corine became pregnant again. Her second son was born extremely premature, which Corine believes may have been caused by her alcohol use. They spent 79 days in the NICU. And one month after she came home from the hospital with her baby, the child’s father kicked Corine and the kids out.
Corine was homeless and jumping from couch to couch with an infant and a toddler. Her drinking only got worse. Child Welfare Services put Corine’s children in the care of her mother because Corine was consistently too inebriated to care for her boys. After that, Corine tried rehab for the first time and relapsed after 60 days of sobriety.
Alcoholism consumed her life after her relapse. She drank the strongest alcohol she could get her hands on—wrecking her body. At this lowest of lows, however, Corine maintained the spark of motivation to live to raise her sons. She entered a mental health facility, then completed rehab successfully on her second try.
“Some of the women I knew in rehab went to Solutions for Change after they got out, and they had the best things to say about the place,” Corine said. “They felt stable and supported. They were safe. And that was exactly the kind of environment I needed to keep myself from sliding back into another relapse.”
So Corine applied for Solutions Academy at the end of her time in rehab. She interviewed with our team and her Child Welfare Services case manager to get a sense of how Solutions Academy would work and when she might regain custody of her kids. And despite initial nervousness, Corine swiftly embraced Solutions Academy life.
“It only took a week at Solutions Academy for me to believe I could overcome my addiction and get a better life. I knew this place could actually rebuild me,” Corine said. “In my very first codependency class, I learned how to recognize and define what I was going through in my previous relationship. Then, I got all these servant leadership skills that will let me intentionally communicate my way through difficult relationships and situations for the rest of my life.”
Corine breezed through Solutions Academy and relished in her new sense of purpose. She threw herself into the employment training on Solutions Farms and applied to work full-time for Solutions Farms before she graduated the program.
“Growing food from scratch with a team of people who were changing their lives like me was SO rewarding,” Corine said. “I had a true purpose beyond abusing alcohol, and I wanted to stay in this productive headspace.”
Upon her graduation from Solutions Academy in August 2020, Corine landed a role as Office Administrator for Solutions Farms. And now she’s the Farm Manager—directing the planting and the employees.
Corine’s life has since grown into a comfortable, stable place. She lives in the Solutions for Change Oceanside property with her children and she has been sober for well over a year. And according to Corine, her Child Welfare Services case manager had never seen anyone regain custody of their children as quickly and effectively as her.
“My CWS case is completely closed for the first time in years. That chapter is closed. and it feels so good,” Corine said. “Now that I’m healthy, I can take time to really invest in my kids’ physical and mental health. The life I put them through for the first few years of their lives left some scars on all of us, but now we get to grow together at our own pace. And as I watch my kids and the new class of Solutions Academy students grow, I couldn’t be more proud.”
Solutions Farms sells their fresh produce on their website, where you can also learn more about the life-changing work Corine and the whole Solutions Farms team do every day.